URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — In response to a series of vehicle thefts, spurred by a viral social media trend, the Urbana Police Department is giving away steering wheel locks to at-risk Hyundai and Kia owners in Urbana.
The thefts come as a result of videos on TikTok that showcase the vulnerability of the cars and demonstrate how to steal them. A widespread social media trend ensued that reached not just Urbana, but also Champaign and Springfield.
Now, Hyundai Motors is partnering with police to give free steering wheel locks to owners of affected Hyundai and Kia models. Endangered vehicles include 2011 to 2021 Kia vehicles and 2013 to 2021 Hyundai vehicles without an engine immobilizer.
Urbana Police will be giving away their locks on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon. Locks will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis at their headquarters at 400 South Vine Street; people may enter the City Hall lot from the east side via High Street, then exit on Vine Street through the Urbana Fire Department truck bay.
To receive a lock, drivers must provide their current vehicle registration and proof of residency in Urbana. University of Illinois students can provide mail or their I-Card as proof of residency.
Kia and Hyundai are also offering a software patch that ensures the vehicles require a key before being driven. Drivers can get this by contacting their local dealerships.
Urbana residents who have experienced vehicle theft are encouraged to call the police at 217-384-2320. Witnesses to thefts in progress should call 911.